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Commonwealth Fund Panel Proposes Options To Slow Health Care Spending

By Alvin Tran

January 10th, 2013, 9:18 AM

A group of health policy professionals Thursday called on federal, state and local governments to help slow the relentless growth of health care spending by setting firm limits on those expenditures.

The group, assembled by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group, urged each level of government to agree to hold the increases in health spending to the same rate as the growth of the gross domestic product, a measure of the nation’s total economy, while also improving health system performance.  “Establishing such a spending target and adjusting policies as needed if the target is exceeded, would focus attention on identifying the sources of excessive cost increases,” the report suggests.

That recommendation was part of a comprehensive report calling for a $2 trillion reduction in health spending over 10 years that included reforming payments to health care providers, creating more care systems for consumers to choose from, and improving how health care markets function.

“Staying in the current system is no longer a viable option,” Stuart Guterman, the Commonwealth Fund vice president and executive director of the fund’s Commission on a High Performance Health System, told reporters. “You have to think about how to change the provision of health care to help your patients more and to make work more satisfying to providers.”

According to Cathy Schoen, the fund’s senior vice president, one of the key options presented in the report is implementing a new “Medicare Essential” plan. This would be an attempt to eliminate the need for Medigap and other insurance plans that seniors use to pay expenses that Medicare does not cover. It would offer integrated benefits that limit out-of-pocket costs if seniors enroll in medical homes or receive care from medical professional who coordinate their efforts.

“The new choice would provide positive incentives, lower cost-sharing, to seek care from high value practices,” Schoen said. The new plan would have “one premium just the way all of us have with an employer.”

David Blumenthal, chairman of the Commonwealth Fund, said, “We think that some of what we’re proposing will look like an escape valve, because this results in better value rather than pain and suffering for either beneficiaries or for providers. We hope that there will be bipartisan resonance for a number of these things.”

7 Responses to “Commonwealth Fund Panel Proposes Options To Slow Health Care Spending”

  1. larry says:

    I guess the next noises we will be hearing is Senator Chuck Grassley leading his choir of fellow tea party members singing that familiar tune that we know so well, “Death Panels”. Geez! Will these neo-cons morons ever get over the idea that they lost the November 2012 election. Dimwits!

  2. larry says:

    I guess the next noises we will be hearing is Senator Chuck Grassley leading his choir of fellow tea party members singing that familiar tune that we know so well, “Death Panels”. Geez! Will these neo-con morons ever get over the idea that they lost the November 2012 election. Dimwits!

  3. Mai says:

    You can only pick so many pockets before you run out of them. Time to get real.

  4. larry says:

    How the hell can we slow healthcare spending when we still have insurance companies running the show? Isn’t it the greedy profit driven insurance companies that ruined our healthcare system in the first place? Most successful healthcare systems in other countries kicked their insurance companies out a long time ago. Why can’t we simply eliminate health insurance and go to a single-payer system?

  5. Bob says:

    Larry asks “Isn’t it the greedy profit driven insurance companies that ruined our healthcare system in the first place?” My answer: hell no. Sure, there’s lots of bad stuff done by health plans….but if you were able to magically remove every scrap of their profits forever, you WOULD put a notch in health care super-inflation. That notch would buy us about three to six MONTHS of relief from health care inflation…and then we’d be back on exactly the same destructive trajectory we would have otherwise taken.

    Health care super-inflation is brought on by the simultaneous existence of two phenomena. First, a consumer’s own consumption of health care is exceedingly volatile, and 99% of consumers cannot put aside enough assets to protect against that volatility. Second, if a consumer is protected against that volatility (e.g. by coverage), his or her behavior is dramatically altered (aka “moral hazard”), and we devolve to “market failure”. The ACA is our last-gasp attempt to re-establish a functional market…not for medical care itself, but rather for the costs of coverage. If you want to talk about greed that MATTERS, point to the docs and hospitals, not to health plans.

  6. larry says:

    Bob seems to ignore the fact that American healthcare consumers pay nearly twice as much as any of the other industrialized countries in the world that do not reply on profit driven insurance companies to completely control who lives and who dies. Gee Bob, can you explain why America’s health care system ranks 37th worldwide in efficiency and effectiveness? Gee Bob, can you explain why America has over 50 million uninsured and about 25 million underinsured? Gee Bob, can you explain why, in spite of 25 percent of Americans being uninsured or underinsured, we pay twice as much as nations that tossed out the idea of insurance companies many decades ago? The ACA is the last gasp? If the ACA was the last gasp, President Obama would not have been re-elected and he would not be enjoying a 55 percent favorable rating in the polls. Bob, your are a tea party Republican, right? Dream on Bob! Face the facts Bob, the ACA is a giant leap toward a universal single-payer healthcare system for all Americans. If you don’t like that fact Bob, maybe you’d be happier in another country where they allow corrupt insurance companies absolute control over healthcare. Good luck with that Bob, I hope you can still find one. Fact is, we are the only country left that still does 1920′s healthcare.

  7. sarah says:

    Yeah…

    What Larry said!

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